State Attorney Bill Gladson has established an Animal Cruelty Task Force for Citrus, Hernando, Marion, Lake, and Sumter counties. The goal of the task force is for law enforcement, animal services, and other animal protection organizations to work together to effectively investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes throughout the Fifth Judicial Circuit.
Florida law affords some of the best protection to animals in the United States. The state currently ranks 7th in the nation in terms of the strength of its anti-cruelty legislation, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. It takes the cooperation of the community and all related agencies for these laws to be effectively enforced.
The task force includes the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, county animal services, and local law enforcement agencies. Members of the community will also play an essential role as the task force’s most powerful ally, alerting police and animal services when animal neglect and abuse are suspected.
In tandem with the newly created task force, State Attorney Gladson has created an animal cruelty unit within the State Attorney’s Office. The unit is composed of Assistant State Attorneys with the interest, experience, and knowledge necessary to bring justice to animal victims.
“My office is committed to aggressively prosecuting animal cruelty cases, and I am grateful for the team which shares our commitment,” said State Attorney Gladson. “The reach of these crimes goes beyond harm to innocent animals; these criminals pose a risk to the entire community.”
Animal cruelty is commonly linked with violence against people, domestic violence, and criminal enterprises. Nearly 70% of animal abusers have criminal records and animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
For more information regarding the link between animal abuse and other forms of violence, visit https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Animal-Legal-Defense-Fund-Link-Factsheet.pdf.